February 03, 2017
For Ankle Sprains Your Recovery Makes all the Difference.

By Ryan Geringer DO

 We have all done it; rolled our ankle off a curb while jogging, landing incorrectly after that game winning layup in HORSE or doing the electric slide in three inch Manolo Blahnik heels. According to the ACSM, 25,000 people sprain their ankles everyday (Over 7,000,000 annually). This high level of incidence makes this the top orthopedic injury and accounts for almost 30% of adolescent visits to sports medicine clinic.


Most sprained ankles occur in the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Sprains can range from tiny tears in the fibers that make up the ligament to complete tears through the tissue. Grading for sprains is simple. Grade 1 is a minor strain with no tear. Grade 2 is a partial tear. Grade 3 is a full tear.  The high percentage of ankle sprains are grade 1 and 2 which are treated without surgery and instead all guidelines recommend functional recovery to properly heal an Ankle Sprain.


What is functional recovery? It is a plan that focuses on regaining the total function of your ankle and according to Wolfe et al should begin immediately after injury and continue until all pain is gone.  Functional recovery does not occur by keeping the ankle immobile using crutches for several weeks. A study of 64 military personnel found that the group with mobility returned to work and other activities months sooner than the group placed in a cast. Several guidelines now recommend the acronym PRICE;

  • Protect/Rest: This used to be just rest, but resting (immobilizing) is not the goal and mild weight should be applied while you protect the ankle with a brace, wrap, or splint.
  • Ice: Reducing the swelling and pain will help you regain the range of motion.
  • Compression: Will help to milk the swelling that has formed out of the joint.
  • Exercise: The AAFP recommends range of motion exercise in the first 48 and ongoing tension during healing.
Not only does active recovery allow you to get back to activity faster, it can also help in the prevention of future ankle sprains by allowing the ligament to heal properly. This is because tension across a muscle, ligament, or tendon wound orients the healing fibers. Without that tension the fibers will not heal in a uniform pattern resulting in laxity of the joint (Weak Ankles).  This stress also encourages the replacement of stronger replacement collagen. In fact a study on K9s compared ligament healing after a surgical repair with mild activity and immobilization. The group with activity had ligament strength that was 92% of the uninjured group compared to 14% for the immobilized group. This difference can make a significant impact on the likelihood of re-injury.


If you are one of the 7M people who sprained their ankle this year, don’t just stay off of it. Make sure you care for your ankle.


“The importance of proper rehabilitation after an ankle sprain cannot be overemphasized, especially when the debilitating consequences of decreased range of motion, persistent pain and swelling, and chronic joint instability are considered” Wolfe Et. Al


It is always important to see medical professional for diagnosis and treatment instructions. For your convenience, we have created a complete care kit that contains all elements of PRICE available at Pains and Strains that can ship free directly to your home.


Joe McClung

Comment (1)

  • Mitali

    Ankle injury is very painful, i would must say that in such condition people must take the help of physio therapist to get the right solution. Thanks for sharing.

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